Collecting elderberry from roadways

Now that I just recently purchase 2 elderberry plants online Ive found that they grow profusely in my area at the sides of highways/roadways. ( literally almost everywhere )

Is it a problem for me to dig up some of these saplings for transplant legally speaking I mean?

Im guessing it comes down to how bored the cops are but would I have an argument if one of them gets a hard on to hassle me?

Im just asking cause if its a federal offense or similar than Id be extra precocious about my actions.

1 Like

Cuttings root about as easily as anything out there…hardly any need to dig up seedlings.

If they’re on the highway right of way, there’s probably no prohibition on collecting so long as you’re not creating a traffic hazard.


I’d second what Lucky said. Keep an eye on them this summer to see which ones have the traits you’re most interested in. Then collect dormant cuttings over the winter and propagate them that way. They’ll root easily even just in cups of water.


I ran across a particularly heavy-fruiting ‘volunteer’ growing near a mailbox on a rural road several years back - I’d just purchased a half-dozen named variety rooted cuttings. Obviously mowed around (rather than mowed down). Drove up to the house a couple of times over the next week or two, but could never find anyone at home to ask permission to take cuttings… so, I just took a few. They’ve since mowed it down, so I’m glad I took some when I did. They rooted just fine… didn’t have to wait for dormant season.
Anymore, there are now elderberry seedlings popping up all over the orchard - under apple trees, in blueberry bushes, etc. I just pull 'em up and toss 'em.


Yeah, once you know what to look for, they’re everywhere! From what I’ve seen of the wild types vs named selections, it’s probably not worth the effort to dig up a random seedling. The quality and quantity of fruits just isn’t there, unless you just want a whole bunch or for wildlife purposes. However, they’re a great source of elderflower for teas or elderflower fizz.

I have a few elderberry here , York and Adams .
Have propagated some, spread them around. What I noticed is that they have more fruit flys on them than anything I have seen.
So now I am having second thoughts,by the time the berrys are ripe they are just a cloud of flys. Unusable. And a breeding ground for SWD. Which will bother other things . I like having the midsummer blooms for beneficials , but not more flys


Biggest problem with digging up roadside plants would be adequate root retention.

I haven’t seen a problem with SWD here, although they are in the area. I think my varieties are ripe early enough to escape the worst of it.

But I think the way I protect them from birds, etc. would probably keep the SWD out as well. I posted about it a couple years ago:

After putting the net bags over the berry heads I use a cable tie to snug it down around the stem which keeps out the bugs.

Besides keeping bugs out, I actually found it super easy to juice the berries if you don’t feel like separating them individually. You just cut off the bags of berries, put them in the freezer for a few days and then thaw them out and wring out the bags of berries. The freezing helps break down the berries to get the juice out easily. I did this for making jelly last year. But I do think cooking the berries whole may provide some more of the medicinal/health benefits from the skins, but that is just a guess.

1 Like

I have land that Im trying to fill, ( so tired of looking at the beach sand ) Id like to plant things that I could find some use for if I needed them, Id rather have a dozen che plants and 2 dozen elderberries than grass if you get my meaning.

Im wondering how they are gonna do in the sun. Full sun and can be blazing hot with sever drought at times.

Im hoping that if I plant enough that enough will adapt as well as can be expected and Ill have some nice looking plants to look at that could also provide a food source for myself and the birds/bees.

Does anyone have them under the conditions I describe?

From what Ive read Im asking alot I guess

I went all over town collecting elderberries with my wife the very first summer SWD was here, before we knew what it was. The worms had been attacking our late blueberries as well. The wine was pretty awesome but SWD is a reason why I don’t have elderberries. It’s not a huge loss. Losing fall raspberries is a much bigger deal to me.

1 Like